I noticed that my brother now had a bitcoin payment address at the bottom of his blog, so I figured I ought to send him something.

So, I signed up for bitcoin, followed a link that gives you a bitcoin nickel for free, and then sent 4 bitcoin cents of it to Steve.

Now I only have one bitcoin penny. If you’ve got a bitcoin account (or, if you’d like to create one and get your own free nickel), and want to send me some bitcoins (not that I can see why you would), here’s my payment address:

1JizYHL53sn64hG4Nt7s2Q5PMEYpRjrWPV

Then I’d have more than just one bitcoin penny.

Some bitcoin pennies would be great, but what I’d really like is some spesmiloj.

(Note: I’d actually feel kind of uncomfortable if someone I didn’t know personally were to send me either bitcoins or spesmiloj.)

Still full dark yesterday morning when I ventured out in the bitter cold to make the pre-dawn drive to Normal to give an 8:00 AM presentation on Esperanto.

I dressed for the cold—wool socks, flannel-lined jeans, wool shirt under my Alaska pipeline surplus coat, hand-knit wool hat, scarf, and mittens—so I was comfortable enough. (And it was cold. Official temp when I headed out was just -6℉, but it kept dropping as I drove and was apparently -11℉ by the time I arrived.)

It was a rather pleasant drive. The roads were clear, so I was able to make good time. (When it’s that cold ice isn’t really very slippery anyway.) There was a nearly full moon high in the south-west, so bright I was glad it wasn’t any lower or more westerly—it would have made it hard to see the road. In the rear-view mirror I could see the sky behind me turn pink with the approaching dawn.

I’d been invited by John Baldwin to teach a little Esperanto to one of his classes. He’d just introduced the students to the topic of morphemes, which are hard to teach to native speakers of English. English has morphemes, of course, but they’re largely fossilized—artifacts of the history of the language, rather than active components that speakers use all the time to build words and sentences the way they are in Esperanto.

I taught them a little Esperanto through the direct method—teaching them “Mia nomo estas . . .” and “Mi havas ĉapelon.” Then I went over the grammar of the language, with an emphasis on the morphemes, and then we translated some sentences into and out of Esperanto. I had a good time. The students seemed engaged. The professor said he was pleased with how things went. So, it was all good.

Things wrapped up promptly at 8:50. I got back in my car and drove back home. Not a boring drive, because things looked quite different by daylight. I did some thinking about my next story.

It was warming up—about 0℉ by the time I got home.

We keep our apartment cool, in the interest of minimizing our contributions to both resource depletion and global warming. Plus, Jackie likes to wear her woollies, which isn’t practical in a warm apartment. The only real downside is that, in a cool apartment, my hands get cold when I write. To address that problem, Jackie offered to knit me some fingerless gloves. (Click any of the pictures for a larger version.)

Fingerless gloves
My first fingerless gloves

My first pair of fingerless gloves were knitted to my precise specifications. It’s made of fairly course yarn, which I figured would be fine for my purposes, and it has the fingers truncated almost completely, which I figured would make it easier to type.

Unfortunately, even just the row or two of knitting that formed the finger holes turned out make them a little uncomfortable for typing.

Since those weren’t quite satisfactory, I came up with a new design—fingerless gloves that not only had no fingers, they didn’t even have finger holes.

My Rosebud Wristlets

Jackie made these most lovingly. She not only spun yarn by hand, she spun it by hand while attending a science fiction convention (WorldCon in Toronto). The main color was hand dyed as well (with brazilwood). The yarn is wonderfully soft and fine. I got to pick the colors, and I picked these colors so that I could call them Rosebud Wristlets.

My Rosebud Wristlets were a complete success, and they’ve been my main fingerless glove for seven years (they were a Christmas present in 2003).

I liked them so well, I got Jackie to make a second pair that we gave to Kelly Link.

My 2010 fingerless gloves

Not having fingers at all was great for leaving my fingers free for typing, but had a downside: My hands stayed warm, but my fingers sometimes got cold. So, I asked for yet another pair of fingerless gloves, this pair with fingers, but made from yarn so fine that it wouldn’t force my fingers uncomfortably far apart.

So, Jackie knit me this pair of fingerless gloves. Each glove finger extends out to the last knuckle of my finger. They’re made from machine-spun “fingering weight” yarn (perhaps called that because it’s the right weight to use when knitting glove fingers).

They’re wonderful. They’re not more wonderful than my Rosebud Wristlets, but they do keep my fingers warmer. So far I’ve been alternating between them, depending on whether just my hands are cold, or my fingers too.

For a while I’d imagined that I might design the ultimate fingerless glove, but it turns out, as usual, that the best tool for the job really depends not only on the precise details of what you’re trying to do, but also the precise circumstances under which you’re trying to do it.

During week two at Clarion, I wrote a story that played to my strengths—one where the story was strengthened by being told from the viewpoint of a character who was almost affectless, so the story didn’t suffer from my limitations at showing a character’s feelings as he suffers.

As I observed at the time, this was probably a mistake:

The thing is, Clarion isn’t a time to stay within your limitations. It is a time to push beyond them. So, I’m a bit disappointed in myself. But only a bit: I didn’t do it on purpose; I was just trying to tell the best story I could. Now that I’ve thought about it, I’ll take more risks with the next one.

And I did. In fact, I’ve taken that particular risk with pretty much every story I’ve written since then. And with practice, I have gotten better at that aspect of storytelling and character development. In fact, I’ve used every story I’ve written since then to try to stretch my abilities, not just in that area, but in every other area where I know I have weaknesses.

That was probably a mistake too.

If you want to sell your stories, they need to be the best stories you can write. But for the past ten years, I have refrained from telling stories in a way that let me keep within my limitations, because I wanted to grow as a writer.

It was great practice. I’ve learned a lot. I’m a stronger fiction writer now. But I’m not quite sure how I fell into the notion that I needed to try to push beyond my limitations with every story I wrote.

Within the context of a workshop, sure. It would be a waste of the opportunity to workshop a story that I’d crafted such that it required only the tools I’d already mastered. But for other stories—for stories that I’m writing to sell—perhaps it wasn’t necessary to make such an effort to showcase my weaknesses.

Why it took me ten years to figure this out, I’m not sure. But I have finally, I hope, learned better. I’ll still try to stretch and grow as a writer. But at least some of the stories I write—for a little while, perhaps many of them—will be crafted to showcase my strengths.

Jackie wearing the Elise earrings "Honor is not Always Loud"
Jackie wearing the Elisem earrings "Honor is not Always Loud"
Jackie modeling the Elisem earrings Honor is Not Always Loud

I think I’ve mentioned it somewhere each time I’ve gotten Jackie a pair of earrings at one of Elisem‘s haiku earring parties, but The Sinister Leprechaun seems to be the only pair I’ve gotten since starting this particular iteration of my blog.

(Ah, it turns out that I wrote about Honor is Not Always Loud on my old LiveJournal, but don’t seem to have posted a picture until now. I don’t seem to find any mention of Volcanoes on Vacation. I should get a picture of them up as well.)

The haiku earring party is always one of the highlights of WisCon for me, which is only the smallest reason why this is wonderful news: On the Rewards of CALLING 911 RIGHT AWAY.

Learn the signs of a stroke. If anyone shows those signs—you or someone you’re with—call 911.

Jackie made pancakes for breakfast.

As we ate, I mentioned that I used to make pancakes when I was a single guy, but that I made them differently. And then I ran into difficulty when I tried to describe what I meant by “differently.” I was sure there were several things that were different, besides the fact that I made big pancakes, while she makes small pancakes (four at a time on the griddle), but I couldn’t quite remember.

And as I cogitated on that fact, I did a little mental arithmetic and realized that the ten years I’d been a single guy running my own household (from when I graduated from college in 1981 until 1991) would this year be matched twice over—I’ve now shared a household with Jackie for twenty years.

No wonder I no longer remember the details of just how I ran my kitchen differently. Time has passed.

I just got email from Sheila Williams that she’s buying my story “Watch Bees” for Asimov’s! I’m terribly excited—this is my first sale to one of the “big three” sf magazines.

No word yet on when the story will appear. I’ll post here as I know more. (One of the cool things about a sale is that you get to appreciate it over and over again—when you get word of the sale, when you get the contract, when you get paid, when the story comes out. . . .)

As if I didn’t have better things to do with my time, I just spent most of the morning making changes to my website, including updating to a new theme and then fiddling around making changes so that things would display right in the new theme.

I like it.

In a blog post that’s no longer available, David Hewson described a great alternative to keeping manuscript files in your Dropbox (which seems slightly risky, even though there is a local copy as well as one in the cloud) while still getting the benefit of having an up-to-date copy in the cloud if you unexpectedly want one.

Since the original post is gone, I thought I’d update this post with a quick description of the idea.

First, get an account at Dropbox. (Another cloud storage place would probably work just as well.)

Second, go into Scrivener’s Preferences and point the location for backups at a folder in your Dropbox folder. (Choose to save as a zip file; choose to include the date in the file name; choose to save some reasonable number of copies.)

I’ve been running with Scrivener set this way for a couple of years now, and I really like it.

My master copy is on my desktop machine, not vulnerable to any glitches on the internet. But every time I close Scrivener, a copy is zipped up and put in the cloud. It’s reliable enough that I don’t bother put a fresh copy of my file on my laptop when I head out to work off-site somewhere. When I’m ready to work, I just grab the latest backup off my Dropbox, unzip it, and work on that file. When I get home, I do the same thing again, grabbing the latest backup (the one saved at the end of my off-site work session), unzipping it, and swapping that file in for my master copy.

[Updated 25 February 2013 to remove the dead link and provide a description of the procedure originally described by David Hewson.]